Dealing with Procrastination

October 1, 2012

To avoid putting off work:

  • Change your thinking; self-motivate: Convince yourself that you’re enjoying your work, or you’re being productive.
  • Change your environment: Put barriers between you and distraction
  • Disciplined breaks: start with 25 minutes working and then take a 5 minute break. Increase the work interval over time.
  • Deadlines: costly self-imposed or even external deadlines work.

The Dish

Citing this post: Urbano, L., 2012. Dealing with Procrastination, Retrieved November 20th, 2017, from Montessori Muddle: http://MontessoriMuddle.org/ .
Attribution (Curator's Code ): Via: Montessori Muddle; Hat tip: Montessori Muddle.

There’s no Becoming a Writer

May 27, 2012

If … you had asked, “Should I become a professional writer?” the answer would have been No. And why not? The answer would have been that if you were destined to become a professional writer, you wouldn’t have asked the question; you would have known the answer for yourself and to hell with what anybody told you.

— Malcolm Cowley in a letter to Richard Max Rebecca Davis O’Brien (2012): Malcolm Cowley, Life Coach, in the Paris Review of Books.

Advice from a writer to a potential writer. A career in writing is a difficult choice: “the rewards come late”; “most writers are failures”. You need to want to write. Intrinsic motivation.

Rebecca Davis O’Brien (2012): Malcolm Cowley, Life Coach The Dish.

Citing this post: Urbano, L., 2012. There's no Becoming a Writer, Retrieved November 20th, 2017, from Montessori Muddle: http://MontessoriMuddle.org/ .
Attribution (Curator's Code ): Via: Montessori Muddle; Hat tip: Montessori Muddle.

Daniel Pink on Motivation

April 6, 2012

Take home message: As soon as someone’s paid enough that money is no longer an issue, paying them more (or giving bonuses) can even have a negative effect on their performance on anything that requires higher level thought.

Which suggests that if we take grades out of the equation kids will learn more?

Audio from Daniel Pink’s TED talk on motivation.

Mrs. D.

Citing this post: Urbano, L., 2012. Daniel Pink on Motivation, Retrieved November 20th, 2017, from Montessori Muddle: http://MontessoriMuddle.org/ .
Attribution (Curator's Code ): Via: Montessori Muddle; Hat tip: Montessori Muddle.

Motivating Teachers

December 30, 2011

Teachers are, I believe, human too. So it should not be surprising that more motivated teachers perform better. Oscar Marcenaro-Gutierrez and Peter Dolton highlight an OECD report that shows the benefits of increasing teacher pay.

Image from Dolton and Marcenaro-Gutierrez (2011).

What’s most interesting though is their explanation of the data. It’s not necessarily that if you pay an individual teacher more they work that much harder, but that if you pay more you increase the status of the profession and so you attract more potential teachers and are able to select better teachers:

… improving teachers’ pay improves their standing in a country’s income distribution and hence the national status of teaching as a profession. As a result of this higher status, more young people will want to become teachers. This in turn makes teaching a more selective profession and hence facilitates the recruitment of more able individuals.

Higher status and higher pay are invariably linked but the two can provide separate driving forces to engineer better recruits to the profession. The key hypothesis is that better pay for teachers will attract higher quality graduates into the profession and that this will improve pupil performance.

— Dalton and Marcenaro-Gutierrez (2011): If you pay peanuts, do you get monkeys? in CenterPiece Magazine

(via The Dish).

So the actual pay is secondary to the status conferred by the job. I would further speculate that teachers motivated more by status rather than pay are more likely to want to excel at their work, since the quality of their work is tied more on their self-worth.

Citing this post: Urbano, L., 2011. Motivating Teachers, Retrieved November 20th, 2017, from Montessori Muddle: http://MontessoriMuddle.org/ .
Attribution (Curator's Code ): Via: Montessori Muddle; Hat tip: Montessori Muddle.

Chlorine

October 5, 2011

“I’d like you to do chlorine too.”

“But I shouldn’t have to do chlorine. Chlorine was extra homework last time. I got Argon. I’ll do Argon. I don’t have to do extra homework today, so I shouldn’t have to do chlorine too.”

“It’s true, you didn’t earn extra work today.”

“So I don’t have to do chlorine.”

“If you do chlorine we’ll have the full set of elements.”

“But do I have to do it?”

“I’d like you to do it.”

“But do I have to?”

“No.”

“OK I’ll do it.”

Citing this post: Urbano, L., 2011. Chlorine, Retrieved November 20th, 2017, from Montessori Muddle: http://MontessoriMuddle.org/ .
Attribution (Curator's Code ): Via: Montessori Muddle; Hat tip: Montessori Muddle.

Notes on Daniel Pink’s Drive

January 30, 2011

Introduction

Introduces the idea of intrinsic motivation.

  • Describes Harlow and Deci‘s original studies that came up with the idea of intrinsic motivation. Note: Maslow (of Hierarchy of Needs fame) was Harlow’s student.
  • Three basic types of motivation (drives):
    • Motivation 1.0: Biological (need for food, drink, sex)
    • Motivation 2.0: Extrinsic (e.g. getting paid)
    • Motivation 3.0: Intrinsic

Chapter 1: Extrinsic versus Intrinsic Motivation

1. Wikipedia: a success almost entirely because contributors are willing to invest their time and energy for no reward; the very definition of intrinsic motivation.

  • Note: Despite my own challenges with students using Wikipedia as a reliable source, we use our own classroom Wiki extensively. Giving students projects with a clear goal in mind, but great freedom in execution (like the choose your own adventure stories), seems to tap into the same spirit that motivates the Wikipedia contributors.

2. Social operating systems: the basic, often invisible, assumption on which society runs.

  • Note: Good metaphor, but he explains it as if the development of our understanding of motivation paralleled human evolution/development. Pre-social humans were driven primarily by the biological imperative, like large animals still are, he claims. I am very uneasy about this sort of lazy extrapolation given how much we’re learning that differences between humans and animals are no where near where we thought they’d be, particularly given the social organization of many animals. He also ignores cross-cultural differences: different societies value self-actualization and other intrinsic motivation characteristics much differently than the WIERD one he seems to be describing.

3. Introduces behavioral economics (mentions Ariely): Humans are not anywhere near to being ideal, rational economic agents.

4. During the industrial revolution, work was mostly algorithmic (a worker could follow a clearly defined set of steps to get their job done), while now it’s mostly heuristic (workers have to come up with new things).

  • algorithmic work is being replaced by software and outsourced really fast (that’s globalization for you)
  • p. 30 – U.S. job growth – 30% algorithmic, 70% heuristic.
  • Note: Pink claims that heuristic work can’t be outsourced “generally”. He apparently wrote a book about it: A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future. I may have to get that one, because, while I can see automation eliminating most algorithmic work, I don’t know why heuristic work is so difficult to outsource. Certainly there are local, cultural issues that would make things like advertising campaigns difficult for outsiders (and teaching would probably be hard to outsource too because most people don’t want to send their kids overseas for school), but a lot of other stuff is not that difficult for some creative person somewhere else to do; the world is, after all, Flat. Heuristic jobs are still going to be more abundant than algorithmic, but going heuristic no magic bullet: global competition is still going to be a major factor in the future.

Chapter 2

Baseline rewards: the basics people need in a job that earns them a living. Salary, a few perks, some benefits etc.

  • Below baseline rewards there is little motivation.
  • Above baseline rewards extrinsic rewards can be counterproductive.

Work vs. Play: Mark Twain: “Work consists of whatever a body is obliged to do, and that play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do.”

When rewards don’t work:

  • When they are expected (see also post on Praise and Rewards) (called contingent rewards). If you do this, you’ll get this, does not work.
  • Deci et al., 1999: “tangible rewards tend to have a substantially negative effect on intrinsic motivation.”

(to be continued)

Citing this post: Urbano, L., 2011. Notes on Daniel Pink’s Drive, Retrieved November 20th, 2017, from Montessori Muddle: http://MontessoriMuddle.org/ .
Attribution (Curator's Code ): Via: Montessori Muddle; Hat tip: Montessori Muddle.

The meaning of life?

January 22, 2011

A key premise of the Montessori approach to education is that, given children’s innate drive to learn, learning is its own reward. Extend this to adults and you realize that the “work” should provide its own motivation. Cristin O’Keefe notes that in 1847, Thomas Dent Mutter pointed out:

The world is no place of rest. I repeat, it is no place of rest but for effort. Steady, continuous undeviating effort. Our work should never be done and it is the daydream of ignorance to look forward to that as a happy time, when we shall wish for nothing more, and have nothing more to accomplish.
–Thomas Dent Mutter (1847) via Cristin O’Keefe via Harriet via The Dish.

I sometimes wonder, with our adolescents being somewhere between childhood and adulthood, if sometimes neither set of rules apply. For some students, they’ve not yet discovered the “work” that inspires them and, without that overarching objective to drive them, can’t find the motivation for learning.

Adolescence can last a long time.

Citing this post: Urbano, L., 2011. The meaning of life?, Retrieved November 20th, 2017, from Montessori Muddle: http://MontessoriMuddle.org/ .
Attribution (Curator's Code ): Via: Montessori Muddle; Hat tip: Montessori Muddle.

Rewards and motivation

January 3, 2011

… tangible rewards tend to have a substantially negative effect on intrinsic motivation.
Desi et al., 1999.

Edward Deci (and others) published a paper (pdf) in 1999 that analyzed a whole bunch of earlier studies on how extrinsic rewards affect motivation. Their conclusion is that rewards are generally bad because rewards prevent people from learning how to motivate themselves.

… the primary negative effect of rewards is that they tend to forestall self-regulation. In other words, [expectation of rewards] undermine people’s taking responsibility for motivating or regulating themselves
Desi et al., 1999.

So while they may work in the short term, rewards do long-term damage.

When institutions—families, schools, businesses, and athletic teams, for example—focus on the short term and opt for controlling people’s behavior, they may be having a substantially negative long-term effect.
Desi et al., 1999.

They also find that rewards can push you into a negative feedback loop, because to properly administer a reward you usually need increased monitoring and you produce more competition. Both of these undermine intrinsic motivation so you’re left with using more extrinsic rewards. (think also of high-stakes testing and No Child Left Behind).

So what to do? Desi et al. report that:

intrinsic motivation … requires environmental supports. …the necessary supports are opportunities to satisfy the innate needs for competence and self-determination.

(Note: I found out about this article while reading Daniel Pink’s, Drive).

Citing this post: Urbano, L., 2011. Rewards and motivation, Retrieved November 20th, 2017, from Montessori Muddle: http://MontessoriMuddle.org/ .
Attribution (Curator's Code ): Via: Montessori Muddle; Hat tip: Montessori Muddle.

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